Russian women's artistic gymnastics team at 2020 Olympic Games: performance forecast

Dr.Hab., Professor A.A. Somkin1
PhD, Associate Professor G.V. Zarodnyuk2
PhD, Associate Professor N.N. Smirnova2
1Saint-Petersburg State Institute of Film and Television, Saint-Petersburg
2Saint-Petersburg Mining University, Saint-Petersburg

Keywords: XXXII Olympic Games, women's artistic gymnastics, Russia national team, 48/ 49th World Championships.

Background. Artistic gymnastics may be ranked among the top "medals-yielding" sports. Thus 14 sets of medals were contested at the XXXII Olympic Games in Tokyo (team all-round; individual all-round; and specific events) including 8 and 6 sets in men’ and women’s artistic gymnastics, respectively – i.e. with the higher chances for the Olympic gold in the men’s team. The Russia national team was the 1st at the last World Championship prior to the 2019 Olympics when its leader (Nikita Nagorny) was titled the absolute champion. At the same time, the competitive accomplishments of the women's artistic gymnastics team in the 2017-2020 pre-Olympic cycle give reasons to expect good performance at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Objective of the study was to analyze the national women's artistic gymnastics team performance at the 2018/ 19 World Cups and prior Olympics to forecast its competitive success at the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games.

Methods and structure of the study. We analyzed for the purposes of the study the data available on the websites of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG, gymnastics.sport), 2018/ 2019 World Championships (worldgymdoha18.com, stuttgart2019.de); and the relevant YouTube channels: FIG Channel and channel matchtv.ru.

Results and discussion. Team all-round competitions were won by the US team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and 2016 Olympic Games in Rio-de-Janeiro. The Russia national team won silver at these Olympic Games, with 8,209 points behind the US at the 2016 Olympics.  To forecast the Russia national team success at the XXXII Olympic Games, we should analyze the performances of the US and Russia national teams at the 48th World Cup 2018 in Doha (World Cup 2018) and at the 49th World Cup 2019 in Stuttgart (World Cup 2019) [2]. The US team was the first and the Russia national team was the second in both championships, although the Russia national team made progress from 8.766 points at the 2018 World Championship to 5.801 points behind the US at the 2019 World Cup (see Table 1); plus progress in the total difficulty scores from 4.9 points to 3.1 points behind, respectively. Furthermore, the women's artistic gymnastics team was better than the US team at the 2019 World Cup on uneven bars. Despite the progresses, the Russian women's artistic gymnastics team has little chances to win gold at the XXXII Olympic Games in 2020. Instead its priority goal should be the silver medals in the team all-round albeit the Russia national team may be challenged by Italy (bronze medalists of the 2019 World Championship), China (4th place at the 2019 World Championships), France (5th place at the 2019 World Championship) and a few other ambitious teams [1].

Table 1. 48/ 49th World Championships: team standings

Country

 

 

 

 

Total

48th World Championship, Qatar

1 USA

Score

44.666 (1)

43.799 (1)

41.799 (1)

41.365 (1)

171.629

Difficulty

16.8

18.2

17.6

17.5

70.1

2 Russia

Score

41.133 (7)

42.666 (2)

39.932 (2)

39.132 (5)

162.863

Difficulty

15.8

16.7

16.2

16.5

65.2

49th World Championship, Germany

1 USA

Score

45.166 (1)

42.299 (2)

40.966 (1)

43.899 (1)

172.330

Difficulty

17.4

17.9

18.0

18.6

71.9

2 Russia

Score

43.899 (2)

43.665 (1)

38.465 (6)

40.500 (3)

166.529

Difficulty

16.6

18.7

16.5

17.0

68.8

Note: given in brackets are the standings in specific events

Individual all-round competitions at the four last Olympic Games were won by the US gymnasts Carly Patterson (2004, Athens), Nastia Liukin (2008, Beijing), Gabrielle Douglas (2012) and Simone Biles (2016) [4], with the latter having the greatest chances for the 2020 Olympic Games gold as she is, in addition to gold at the XXXI Olympic Games, a five-time absolute World Champion of 2013-2015 and 2018-2019. She demonstrated an overwhelming dominance over her closest rivals at the 2019 World Championship: see Table. 2.

Table 2. Individual women’s all-round at the 48/ 49th World Championships

Gymnast

 

 

 

 

Total

48th World Championship, Qatar

1

Simone Biles

Score

14.533 (6)

14.725 (2)

13.233 (9)

15.000 (1)

57.491

Difficulty

6.4

6.2

6.2

6.6

25.4

5

Angelina Melnikova

Score

14.166(11)

14.433 (4)

13.466 (6)

13.633 (6)

55.698

Difficulty

5.4

6.1

5.3

5.8

22.6

49th World Championship, Germany

1

Simone Biles

Score

15.233 (1)

14.733 (3)

14.633 (1)

14.400 (1)

58.999

Difficulty

6.0

6.2

6.2

6.6

25.0

3

Angelina Melnikova

Score

14.433(13)

13.900 (9)

14.000 (4)

14.066 (3)

56.399

Difficulty

5.4

5.9

5.4

5.8

22.5

Note: given in brackets are the standings in specific events

The absolute champion's title of the 2020 Olympic Games may be contested by the following gymnasts: Morgan Hurd, second best of the US women's artistic gymnastics team and silver medalist at the 2018 World Championship who failed to qualify for the 2019 World Championship; Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos (France), a 2019 European Champion in the individual all-around and the 3rd at the 2019 World Championship till her unexpected failure on uneven bars that pushed her down to the 20th place. Going next is Nina Derval (Belgium), a two-time World Champion (2018 and 2019 World Championships) on uneven bars due to the excellent technical mastery in spite of the relatively low difficulty levels of the routines (scored by 8.50 to 9.00 points with 5th place at the 2019 World Championship). Highly promising is Tang Xijing (China), who was the second in the individual all-around at the 2019 World Championship. And, the last but not least, Sunisa Lee ranked number two in the US national team at the 2019 World Championship and second only to S. Biles at the 2019 US National Championship.

Most promising in the Russia national team are the following gymnasts: A. Melnikova, national team leader and bronze medalist in the individual all-around at the 2019 World Championship; and Vladislava Urazova, silver medalist of the individual all-round at the 1st World Artistic Gymnastics Junior Championship in 2019 in Gyor (Hungary) – the event formally recognized by the FIG as highly successful and included in the global artistic gymnastics calendar of events [3]. It should be mentioned that Urazova won the title of absolute champion at the regular Russian Cup in 2019 with 57.732 total points – i.e. higher than any of the Russia national team leaders. This score could win her silver at the 2019 World Championship.

Specific events. The Olympic Games gold in specific events may be contested by S. Biles in the vault, balance beam and floor; and N. Derval on uneven bars. As for the runner-ups, it is difficult to make any forecasts, since at least 5-6 gymnasts have virtually the same chances for medals. In the Russia national team we would mention first Lilia Akhaimova, two-time silver medalist in the team all-rounds (2018/ 2019 World Championships), with the high-difficulty vault and floor routines and, hence, high chances to compete for medals at the XXXII Olympic Games.

On the whole, we may expect A. Melnikova, V. Urazova and L. Akhaimova to qualify for the Olympic Russia national team based on their performances in 2018 and 2019. The other elite gymnasts with high qualification chances are: Aleksandra Shchekoldina and Anastasia Agafonova, Russia national team members at the 2019 World Championship; and Elena Gerasimova, winner of the 1st Junior World Artistic Gymnastics Cup in the team all-round and balance beam, and bronze medalist of the 2019 Russian Cup in the individual all-around. Rules of the artistic gymnastics tournament at the XXXII Olympic Games limit the Russia national team by four gymnasts, with three gymnasts allowed to compete in every event, and three scores making the total. This provision favors the gymnasts successful in the all-round competitions and highly skillful in specific events. Therefore, the gymnasts specializedzing in one or two events only will have problems in qualifying for the Olympic Russia national team even if they have won world champion titles and Olympic medals for the last few years.  

Conclusion. The Russia national team gymnasts have reasonably high chances to win the team all-round competition. Either of the Russia national team leaders has chances for an Olympic medal, with the individual standings in the team and chances expected to be clarified upon the pre-Olympic training, conditioning and test cycle. It is difficult to forecast at this juncture the individual chances in specific events due to the expected highest competitiveness i.e. large numbers of equally skillful and experienced female gymnasts.

References

  1. Andrianov S.N. The way to Tokyo. Overview of rivals and main contenders for the World Cup medals - 2019. Gimnastika. 2019. No. 3 (38). pp. 60-63.
  2. Somkin A.A. Comparative analysis of results of women's teams of Russia and the United States at the 49th World Gymnastics Championships 2019 in Stuttgart (Germany). Uchenye zapiski universiteta im. P.F. Lesgafta.  2019. no.  10  (176). pp. 338-343.
  3. Buompane N. FIG Executive Committee. Managua (NCA). August 21-22, 2019. World of Gymnastics. 2019.  No. 88. pp. 86-87.
  4. Pajek M. Individual apparatus results of female all around Olympic champions. Science of Gymnastics. 2018. Vol. 10.  No. 3. pp. 357-368.

Corresponding author:

somkin.van@yandex.ru

Abstract

Objective of the study was to analyze the national women's artistic gymnastics team performance at the 2018/ 19 World Cups and prior Olympics to forecast its competitive success at the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games.

Methods and structure of the study. We analyzed for the purposes of the study the data available on the websites of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG, gymnastics.sport), 2018/ 2019 World Championships (worldgymdoha18.com, stuttgart2019.de); and the relevant YouTube channels: FIG Channel and channel matchtv.ru.

Results and conclusions. The results of competitive performances of Russian gymnasts at the last two world championships of the "Olympic cycle" 2017-2020, as opposed to the unconditional leaders - the US national team and its leading gymnast Simone Biles - indicate that our athletes have no real chance of winning in both the team and individual all-round championship. The article considers the options for the personal composition of Russian gymnasts applying for the XXXII Olympic Games in Tokyo, focusing on the results they had demonstrated at the 2018 and 2019 World Championships.

The Russia national team gymnasts have reasonably high chances to win the team all-round competition. Either of the Russia national team leaders has chances for an Olympic medal, with the individual standings in the team and chances expected to be clarified upon the pre-Olympic training, conditioning and test cycle.